MANILA, Philippines – Loyola Meralco Sparks survived a gritty Kaya FC and escaped with a scoreless draw to cap its first round effort atop the heap in the First Division of the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium Tuesday night.
OJ Porteria had a couple of chances to give the LBC-bankrolled Kaya booters the upperhand but couldn’t cash on it.
The 19-year-old Porteria, formerly a DC United Youth standout, barged into the Loyola box on the 60th minute but his strike was challenged by centerback Yves Ashime and later saved by goalie Baba Sampana.
Porteria got through Loyola's defense again 15 minutes later but Simon Greatwich got more than the ball on his challenge of the former, allowing Kaya a penalty shot that Chris Greatwich missed after he was thwarted by Samapana.
"I thought today we were the better side. We clearly out possessed the opposition," said Kaya coach David Perkovic. “I was happy with our performance. I would’ve loved a goal, don’t get me wrong, but the next time we play them, I know who’s going to be confident - me and our boys.”
With three minutes remaining, Phil Younghusband had a chance to snatch the win for Loyola but his free kick hit the crossbar.
Worse, Younghusband was assessed a red card right after the final whistle for unsavory comments he made against the referee and will sit out their next match because of the mandatory one-game suspension.
"We'll take it. We're missing a lot of players, we had to make do with certain players playing in unfamiliar positions," said Loyola mentor Vince Santos, who was missing several key players headed by measles-stricken backline Joaco Canas. "Considering what we had, I think we're okay with a point."
Loyola got a point from a draw to improve to 20 points, four ahead of Global and Kaya with 16 apiece.
In the only other match, Pachanga PLDT Fibr leaned on a match-clinching goal of Nate Burkey as it trounced Green Archers United Globe, 1-0, to move to solo fifth with nine points, two shy of reigning League champion Stallion FC with 11.